Memorial dedicated to Joplin tornado victims of 2011

A 17-foot-tall sculpture was dedicated Wednesday to the people who died in the 2011 tornado that ravaged Joplin, Missouri.

The Joplin Memorial Run sculpture bears the names of the 161 dead from the EF5 twister. It is located at the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex at Joplin Avenue and Seventh Street (aka Route 66).

Other memorials exist in Joplin, but this is the first to contain all the names, reported the Joplin Globe.

Clifford Wert, treasurer of the Cornell Complex, described the location of the memorial as “a hallowed spot” because of its location near Joplin Memorial Hall, which served as a makeshift medical triage site in the hours immediately after the tornado.

It’s also a sacred location, he said, because it has been the beginning and ending point of the Joplin Memorial Run, an annual marathon to honor those who died in the tornado and the resilience of the community in its aftermath.

Each year, the run is scheduled near the tornado anniversary date of May 22. In the initial years of the run, its start and finish line was where the Cornell Complex now stands. While the complex was under construction, the beginning and ending of the run was moved to Cunningham Park, 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard, which was ground zero as the tornado entered the southwestern city limits. […]

The polished, stainless steel memorial sculpture is designed in the shape of a feather flag. One portion of the sculpture stands upright and bears the inscriptions “JMR. 161. May 22, 2011” along one side and “Run. Remember. Rebuild.” on the opposite side. At the bottom of the sculpture the shape of a feather flag is attached horizontally, and it holds the names of those who lost their lives in the tornado.

A local sculptor, Jorge Leyva, designed the memorial.

KOAM-TV had more coverage of the event:

“This sculpture captures our organizations dream of providing something significant to the community that also honors those we lost on May 22nd, 2011. This beautiful sculpture not only honors them, but the banner depicted recognizes the role the runners played in helping this happen. It is a fantastic piece of art, placed on the lawn of our arts and entertainment center that will lead our city into the future,” said Audie Dennis, Active Lifestyle Events, Inc. President

In addition to the massive loss of life, the Joplin tornado injured more than 1,100 people and caused more than $2.8 billion in property damage. It was the deadliest tornado in the U.S. in more than 60 years and is one of the biggest disasters to happen to a Route 66 city.

The twister didn’t cross one of the alignments of Route 66 until it rampaged its way to the far east side of the city.

You can read more about the tornado from the Route 66 News archive here and here.

(Image of the Joplin tornado memorial via the Joplin Memorial Run on Facebook)

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